Here I sit, Christmas Eve morning. Coffee, Bible, journal and an angel-lit Christmas decoration fills the table before me. I have this feeling of anticipation. This sense of waiting for the family to wake up and start our Christmas celebration (a morning early).
I find myself pondering this feeling I have...presents are wrapped and placed in the perfect spots, as usual, traditional egg casserole is baking, cinnamon rolls are made. I know how it's going to go down - it happens every year. I get excited as I, the early riser, waits for everything to get started...Kids wait by the steps until we tell them they can come up. Everyone sits by their gifts, opens them. We thank each other...we have breakfast together...we play games together and enjoy the day! But what if it doesn't go as I have planned it to go - as it always goes? What if the casserole burns...or the excited look I expected the kids to have as they opened their gifts wasn't as big as I imagined? What if it doesn't go as I expected?
Expectation - There's a word for you! Expectation means, "a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future." I have to ask the question, "What are expectations we should consider?" When we expect, we strongly believe that something will happen. I strongly believe this Christmas celebration will unfold as I described. But that lingering question is still there: What if things don't happen as I strongly believe they will? Well, there's disappointment, frustration, doubt, maybe anger, sadness...a feeling of being let down.
Let's consider what or who we place our expectations in...
1. We have expectations of people. Expectations of our spouse, children, family, friends, employers, employees, co-workers...there are things that we strongly believe these folks will say or do. We assume that our spouse should treat us in a certain way. I'm not talking about aspects of a healthy, loving relationship that should be present. I'm talking about expectations we muster up when we observe someone else's relationship, and expect our own to be the same. The expectations that we can conjure up in our minds, imagine, predict and assume this person will do or say this or that. When we strongly believe this will all go as planned...and it doesn't...bam - here comes the disappointment...the tension in the relationship tightens...accusations fly...Expectations are not met.
2. We have expectations of circumstances and situations. We strongly believe we will get a clean bill of health at our doctor's check-up. We strongly believe this party or event or get-together will unfold as planned. We expect, strongly believe, that we will wake up tomorrow to another usual day. But then, the diagnosis comes...news of the passing of a loved one comes...you go to work and find out you lost your job. Our expectations our out the window.
Is positive thinking good - of course. But, you see, we, as humans, are created with cretive minds, with emotions, with a desire for relationships and being involved in activity. We strive to fulfill our longings and our plans. We long for a peace in our being. Maybe we recognize these stirrings and expect them to be satisified by people and circumstances in our lives.
But here's the problem. We live in a broken world with imperfect people and messy circumstances. So, when we place our expectations, when we strongly believe that people and situations will fulfill the longings inside of us, inevitably, we will experience disappointment. (Well isn't this an uplifting Christmas message?!? :))
Here's the good news. Jesus Christ, God's Son, Immanuel is the One and only, the single being who can 100% satisfy our deepest desires. He created us. He knows what is needed and when and how. The One expectation we can strongly believe will happen in the future, is that He will be with us, granting us grace and unconditional love. In each minute, He promises us His presence...WHEN brokenness in our earthly expectations come, He is there. WHEN tragedy strikes our household, He is there. WHEN things just don't go as planned, He is there. WHEN all is well, He is there.
I invite a shifting of our perspective...a shaking up of our mind...a cleansing of cultural and earthly definitions and expectations.
I asked our oldest son if his first semester in college was what he expected. He answered by saying, "That's hard to answer because I went into it with no expectations."
What if we save ourselves some time, energy and emotions by not engaging our mind and hearts in developing our own earhtly set of expectations or strong beliefs of what will happen, but settle in on what our Father has for us? What if we allow Him to help form our goals and expectations. I am a firm believer in setting goals, but ask Jesus to help set those goals. And maybe, as we recognize and embrace His presence, when disappointments come our way, we may know we are not alone. What if our core that is longing may be full of Jesus Christ, our peace, our comfort, our love. What if we turn earthly expectation over into heavenly hope. Jesus also walked in the midst of earthly expectation. He knows. He gets it.. But, Jesus is hope.
Hope - to desire something with confident expectation of its fulfillment. Jesus, our gift from God, the One who came to earth to save us, offering HOPE, joy and peace - our salvation.
Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Allow God to work in your heart; to reveal to you what HE is at work doing. Let Him intervene in your mind and heart, in your expectations. Allow Him to turn your expectations to His hope - something, indeed, you can confidently expect.
(Now I better go check on my egg casserole!)
Merry Christmas everyone - may His hope, joy and peace meet you right where you are, giving you exactly what you need in this day!